Energy Bills That Won’t Get You Hot Under the Collar

When temperatures dip or rise excessively, many of us begin an oft-conducted dance with our thermostats, adjusting it a little bit here and there in the hopes that we can keep our families comfortable while keeping our energy bills payable.

Trying to find that perfect balance often costs us more in our own time and energy, however, than it saves us on our bills. It was with this challenge in mind, and with the hopes of helping environmentally conscious homeowners watch their energy expenditures overall, that the digital programmable thermostat was invented.

Today, thermostats have moved a step or two beyond merely programmable with models that can sense room temperature, adjust for future weather via weather reports and even intelligently learn the preferences of the homeowner.

For those looking to save a little green both monetarily and environmentally, programmable thermostats can help you think ahead, budget and stay comfortable in your home environment.

How programmable thermostats can save some green

According to the United States Department of Energy (http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/energy_savers.pdf), “Heating and cooling your home uses more energy and costs more money than any other system in your home — typically making up about 54% of your utility bill.” And all that energy adds up to a fair amount of air pollution.

In fact, it’s estimated that heating and cooling systems alone put about 150 million tons of carbon dioxide into the air every year. By adjusting your thermostat up by two degrees in the summer and down by two degrees in the winter each year, you could prevent about two thousand pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

But even though it only takes a second or two to adjust, we don’t always think to change the thermostat setting on the way out of the house. Fortunately, there are thermostats on the market that allow you to make these changes from virtually anywhere and you don’t have to break the bank to get them.

Different degrees of thermostats

Wireless or radio thermostats can start for as low as $110, such as the Homewerks Radio Thermostat CT-30 with Wi-Fi module, which you can operate from the web or a mobile app. It’s a simple device with options for changing temperature either instantly or on your personally configured seven day program. It doesn’t read outdoor temperature or learn from previous settings, but it can be operated from any smartphone with the installed app.

For a more sophisticated wireless thermostat system, you can’t do much better than the Nest. Invented by Apple executive Tony Fadell, the Nest is now on its second version and includes features such as System Match, which automatically takes into account the length of time it takes to heat or cool your home so it can be at the right temperature at exactly the right time, and Auto-Away, which works with proximity sensors to lower the temperature automatically when no one is home. It’s also compatible with almost all heating and cooling systems, about 95 percent, and supports emergency heat, humidifiers and dehumidifiers, and second-stage cooling as well as three-stage heating. As for the price, a second generation Nest will set you back about $250.

Wireless thermostats also don’t have to be a stand-alone addition to your house. They’re often one of the first features included in remote home control systems and are even being integrated into home security systems. Security company ADP, for example, includes remote lighting and thermostat control along with their standard security features as part of their new Pulse package, and even Comcast has jumped into the wireless home management game by offering remote lighting and thermostat control as an option in their Xfinity home security package. Installation for these systems runs between $99 and $350, and monthly costs start around $30.

Additionally, there are thermostat and even smart home installations available that don’t require a professional electrician to install them. Insteon, for example, uses existing wiring and radio frequency communication to remotely control thermostats, lighting and even appliances, and doesn’t require a complicated networking setup or central controller.

Depending on what you’re looking for in remote home temperature control, you can find just about anything from simple thermostat access to whole home control.

And regardless of what system you opt for, having a remote thermostat control in your home could pay for itself in the first year; according to the statistics compiled by the government’s Energy Star program, a programmable thermostat could save an average household approximately $180 a year.

And apart from the savings, even a basic programmable thermostat can make a difference in your household’s daily carbon footprint.

What programmable thermostats have you found to be the most effective? What other remote systems have helped you to reduce your home’s carbon footprint?

At Extra Space Storage (www.extraspace.com) Garret Stembridge focuses on optimizing the customer’s experience in finding and using a self storage unit. Extra Space Storage has storage facilities across the U.S. including a self storage unit facility in Orlando.

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